Over the years, The Bohannons have become something of a staple in Chattanooga’s music scene, creating a roaring noise built from bits of Southern rock, punk, pop and blues. Their songs take on the mountainous appearance of the rising geography surrounding Chattanooga, giving each one its own craggy shape and texture. Through a collection of punchy guitar riffs and vocals caked in the sweltering humidity of the South, their work takes on a life all its own. And while they don’t necessarily cling to any given genre, the band frames their records in the heat and dark earth adjacent to the Tennessee River. With the release of their new record, “Luminary Angels,” back in June, they further explore this mixture of Delta stomp and rustic garage rock.
Recently, the band got together with director Joey Kneiser and co-director Carrie Warren to create a video for “Luminary Angels” cut “Smoke and Ashes.” The clip traces the possible dissolution of a relationship as we come across each member of the band in various locations around Chattanooga. The lyrics, which also detail the loss of love and human connection, pair with these images perfectly, creating a place where images and sound reflect the strengths of one another. Recalling the work of Uncle Tupelo or Drive-By Truckers, the song evokes the feeling of winnowed hearts aching for just a few more minutes in the presence of lost affection.
There is a stray bit of hope as we see the couple together once again at the end, but it’s left vague whether this is simply a previous memory or a future reconciliation. The band has been around long enough to realize that nothing in life is easy, especially love, and they don’t offer an unrealistic resolution. But what we take away from the ending may say a good deal more about us than it does about them. The Bohannons have always been masters of reclaiming the modern country-rock equivalence of musicians like Townes Van Zandt and Gram Parsons while imprinting their own distinct experiences, and on “Smoke and Ashes,” they continue to show just how well they understand these communal emotions and twangy rock rhythms.
You can catch the band at JJ’s Bohemia Sept. 9, where they’ll play back-to-back sets at 10 p.m. and midnight.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.